In the largest Korbel Speaker Series event to date, Land Institute founder Dr. Wes Jackson spoke on the theme of the “Spector of Ignorance” and how the the reliance on technology and knowledge reduction has proved unsustainable for agriculture.
In a lecture about the usefulness of perennial grains in sustainable agriculture, Jackson came to the point through lessons in morality, history and evolutionary biology. Seeing the development of agriculture 10,000 years ago as the beginning of the “fallen world,” the practice underscored the problem of human hubris, according to Jackson.
“That is the oldest idea: that nature should be subdued or ignored,” said Jackson. Going back to the origins of agriculture, tying in the enlightenment and other scientific paradigm shifts, Jackson walked through several “syntheses” of scientific thought. Advocating for a new synthesis of thought based on natural processes and the acknowledgement that we are ignorant of more than we are knowledgeable, Jackson is hoping for a new sustainable green revolution.
Co-sponsored with the Josef Korbel School and the University of Denver’s Institute for Public Policy, former Colorado Governor Richard Lamm introduced Jackson saying, “Wes’s ideas have incredible importance for the future of humanity.”
Arguing that humans have used knowledge to destroy land in an effort to make it yield at higher rates, Jackson wished to bring nature and natural processes back to farms. This shift, he argued, would require a move towards an “ignorance-based worldview” with an emphasis on small scale practices.
Practically, this shift would include a move away from current levels of grain production towards replacing them with perennial grains like Kernza, a type of wheat grass, that combats soil erosion among other positive outcomes.
The next speaker in the “Spector of Ignorance” series is Dr. Naomi Reshotko from the University of Denver’s Department of Philosophy on March 27th, 2012 at 12pm in Cherrington 301. The full list of speakers can be seen here.
- Sarah Crozier, MA Candidate, International Development
Josef Korbel School of International Studies